“Tampopo” Screening at London’s Picturehouse Cinema on May 17th

Movie fans in London will have the chance to see the film on the big screen at Picturehouse Central for one night. The screening takes place on 17th May at 18.30pm and tickets are already on sale over at the Picturehouse website.

Tampopo Film Image

There are a small group of films which have almost universal praise and go down in cinema history as they transcend borders, languages, and cultures. Tampopo is one of them. It was written and directed by Juzo Itami just as he was entering the height of his creative powers. After an early career as an actor, he shifted to roles behind the camera and made a series of fondly remembered and critically acclaimed films starting with Tampopo and including A Taxing Woman.

Tampopo is all about the glories of food, the sexiness and spirituality that goes into making something as simple as ramen and while that may sound like one for foodies, it transcends that particular category to become a hilarious comedy thanks to its funny character-filled script which parodies and creates new tropes and genres. Everywhere I have been in Japan, the moment I mention Tampopo, people’s faces light up. “Ah! You know that one!” It seems to be universally loved.

I am guilty of throwing the word classic around with abandon but if you want to be convinced about this particular film’s greatness then here’s a paragraph from an excellent review from the excellent writings of Roger Ebert:

“Tampopo” is one of those utterly original movies that seems to exist in no known category. Like the French comedies of Jacques Tati, it’s a bemused meditation on human nature in which one humorous situation flows into another offhandedly, as if life were a series of smiles.

The 4K restoration of Juzo Itami’s classic ramen western Tampopo was released on blu-ray in the UK on May 01st of this year thanks to The Criterion Collection. Here’s the trailer:

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Sweet Home スウィトホーム (1989)

Genkina Hitos Sweet Home Review Banner

Sweet Home                                           Sweet Home Poster

Romaji: Suui-to Ho-mu

Japanese Title: スウィトホーム

Release Date: 21st January 1989 (Japan)

Running Time: 100 mins.

Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Writer: Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Starring: Nobuko Miyamoto, Shingo Yamashiro, Ichiro Furudate, Fukumi Kuroda, Nokko, Juzo Itami

Kiyoshi Kurosawa is one of my favourite directors so the chance to catch one of his earliest films (thanks to a tip from Sadako’s Movie Shack) which inspired a game considered one of the forebears of Resident Evil¹ was too good to pass up.

A film crew consisting of Kazuo Hoshino (Yamashiro), his daughter Emi (Nokko), producer Akiko Hayakawa (Miyamoto), cameraman Ryō Taguchi (Hurutate) and art restorer/TV presenter Asuka (Koroda) head off to an old and abandoned mansion where famed artist Ichirou Mamiya is said to have painted a final undiscovered fresco inside shortly before his death. After entering the house they discover the fresco and Asuka sets about trying to restore it for a documentary but weird sounds can be heard all over the place and when Taguchi knocks over a creepy shrine a supernatural force is unleashed. Only local man Yamamura (Itami) seems to know the true nature of the curse but can he do anything to save the crew?

The Film Crew in Sweet Home

Sweet Home is a haunted-house movie. Its horror DNA is a mixture of traditional Japanese imagery like long-haired yurei and western influences like Poltergeist, and The Exorcist. As is to be expected for a horror film directed by Kurosawa Sweet Home is anything but sweet. With Kurosawa at the helm you can count on a film which supplies absorbing and creepy atmospherics. This time however instead of an intellectual ghost story what we get is a highly kinetic and mainstream movie which utilises special effects and broad acting to deliver a fun ride.

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